By Jackie White
The best gift you will ever receive is the gift of your life. We don’t always think of life as a gift. We tend to check the boxes on a long list of “to-do’s” each day. The list has things like our jobs, our home, our children, our spouses, parents and friends on it. These people, places and things are integral parts of our lives, and we are the caretakers of those things, but somewhere along the way, we fell off the list. How did that happen, and how do we fix it?
Women are innately caregivers with one real exception and that is caring for themselves. It may seem ironic, but not unusual. We have seen our mothers and grandmothers setting the example of caring for everyone else. It’s an accepted role many women subscribe to. Caring for others can be viewed as a privilege. Caring for others can also give a needed boost of feeling needed and wanted. The other side of caring for others is that it can be exhausting. It can consume the caretaker to the point of feeling overloaded and lost.
Do you ever ask yourself these questions? Oh, by the way, it’s ok to ask these questions:
Where did I go?
Who am I?
Am I just a Chief Cook and Bottle Washer?
Is racing to the finish line everyday what it’s all about?
What is my life about?
Many women are asking the exact same questions. It’s not selfish to ask these questions. Let’s drop the mom guilt and figure out how you can find yourself again and still take care of your babes and peeps.
How to Be Kind to Yourself
You are kind to others and now it’s time to be kind to yourself, so that you can enjoy your life.
You need time to recharge your own batteries so you can be a better wife, mom, daughter and/or friend.
Make the Time:
You must make time for yourself. You might have to get up 30 minutes early or stop scrolling social media to make the time, but somewhere you have to make time for yourself a priority. This one is non-negotiable.
You are moving forward. That doesn’t mean you love anyone less than you always have. It just means you love yourself, too.
But, What If?
Nope. No excuses. We all have fears and anxieties and yours might want to kick in here to block you from being kind to yourself. In order to keep them from holding you back, you have to acknowledge that they exist, name them and then tell them to get on the bus because you are moving on. You can do this!
Self Kindness 101
Meditate: Take time to quiet your mind. Stop the chaos for awhile and go to Paradise Island in your own mind. If your mind keeps running through the lists of what you need to do, just re-focus on your breath. Guided meditations are available on You Tube and can be very helpful to keep you focused.
Why Meditate: You will calm yourself and you will be able gain clarity on how you can reclaim yourself. Reduce stress and reset your mind by intentionally slowing things down.
Exercise: You do not have to be a fitness-crazed person to exercise daily. Here’s a little trick on how to make exercise something to look forward to. If you are missing your favorite television show, watch it while you walk in place in front of the TV . Yep, Karadashians and getting your exercise in!
Why Exercise: We all know that exercise is good for your overall health from your heart to your brain! Need a mood adjuster and what mom doesn’t sometimes? Try exercise! As much as we want to resist it, it can be your best friend. 150 minutes of exercise per week is suggested by the American Heart Association. That’s about 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week - you can do that!
Phone a Friend: Phoning a friend can be a real lifeline! Friendships breathe sanity into the chaos, and they can bring you back to you. Yes, you may be talking about your kids, but your friend is valuing the time spent with you. Take it in and enjoy it.
Why Friends: The number one indicator for long term happiness is relationships. Friends can be a shoulder to lean on, an ear to hear you and a laugh to lighten your mood. They are important. Make time for them.
Spahhhhh Day: This might seem extravagant, but if you can go get a massage or get your nails done, do it! If the cost or getting away is too much, get in the tub at home and bubble bath your stresses away. You can also just grab a cup of tea and a book and transport yourself into another world. The point is to do something special to pamper yourself.
Why Spa: This type of care feels special. Everyone deserves special, just include something that makes you feel special.
Dream and Plan: Connect with your dreams. It’s very common for moms to substitute out their dreams for their kid’s dreams. That is really ok, but don’t forget about things - even small things - you could work on for yourself right now. Look forward 5, 10, 20 years out and think about where you’d like to be. There are seasons for everything, so if you feel that your big dream can’t happen right now, then think about what you could do now in preparation for that dream? Remember a dream can only become a goal with a timeline and a plan, so don’t forget that. If you need help getting your goals together grab our Goal Getter Success Guide right here:
Why Dream: Dreams are the magic of life. You will really begin to feel connected with yourself when you do something to work towards those dreams. Also, if your kids are nearing the end of their school years, you should really get a plan in place once the nest is empty.
But What About Napping: Many of you probably are sleep deprived and need to catch up on some ZZZZ’s. Definitely find the time to do this, but don’t sleep at the exclusion of other self-kindness activities. This might be a tricky proposition, but nap when the kids are napping. If they don’t really nap much anymore, if they are old enough, have them spend some quiet time in their rooms while you catch a little sleep. Better yet, have your spouse or family member watch the kids so you can sleep.
Why Nap: Sleep deprivation can really mess with your ability to function properly. Your body and your brain need to rest and restore. It is very important, so don’t minimize. Aim for 7-9 hours a night.
The bottom line here, is that you must prioritize yourself. Get on the list, Girl! You cannot let your life and self go completely on hold for 18 years while you are raising a child. It is possible to find time for yourself and depending on the season of your parenting, the time available will ebb and flow. Be gentle with yourself and implement more self-kindness to get back to really living and loving life again.
Erika Fehrenbach Prell is passionate about inspiring and educating, others on their path to complete wellness-mind,body, and soul. This desire led Erika to the helping profession of nursing, and she obtained her Master's Degree as a Nurse Practitioner in 2007. Erika specialized in cardiac surgery, largely influenced by her personal experience with heart disease. While she loved working with this population, her heart's desire has always been to impact lives on a larger scale and from a proactive, not reactive, place. The universe answered when her path crossed with Jackie and SoulShine was born. Erika finally feels she is walking in her purpose and is excited for this journey to unfold.